Trulon Henry's Leadership Helps Uplift

The Fighting Illini football team has enjoyed excellent leadership this year, no small reason for its success thus far. As the elder statesman, Trulon Henry has the respect of his teammates. He uses his position to help his peers see the big picture and continue working toward their goals. At the same time, he is striving to enjoy every second of his final few games.

Illinois nickel back/linebacker Trulon Henry has three more regular season games and a bowl game before he must hang up his cleats. He is doing everything in his power to enjoy every second.

"I try to slow the season down. Being my last year, I try not to look ahead. I want to take one game at a time real slow. The season already went too fast, man. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would."

Henry got a late start in college; at the age of 27, he is by far the oldest on the team. He is helping lead the Illini to an excellent season. Specifically, he wants his teammates to forget their three game losing streak and prepare properly for the next game.

"Things are going well. I'm trying to get the team up, get our attitude right mentally for Michigan."

Is the team still confident despite the losses?

"Yeah. We're not down as far as confidence is concerned. We're just trying to get us ready mentally as far as the scheme and stuff for the game. But we're not down."

Henry says it helped to have a week off.

"We needed the bye week. It's always good to get a little rest but stay focused on the season. It is still the football season.

"We had three days off, and now we're back to hitting. It's better than just going straight into it for a game. We feel a little bit fresher."

Henry had a rough early life, so reaching his personal goals is a great relief.

"I graduate in December. It's finally happening, so everything's good."

Henry started at safety last season, but the early season loss of SAM linebacker Ashante Williams forced a position change. His sacrifice helped the team.

"It's coming along well. I knew coming into this thing at a new position that I was basically taking one for the team. It is what it is. I would love to play safety my second year. Playing a new position your last year is kind of frustrating some times. I'm happy as long as the team is successful."

The team is successful, especially the defense.

"Yeah, no question. So I really can't complain. It definitely worked out to our advantage. I'm still here, playing what they want me to play. Doing it for the team and having fun doing it."

Illinois lost to Michigan 67-65 in overtime last season in a game that could have gone either way. Like most of his teammates, Henry feels the Illini are motivated to reverse the result this season.

"They got us good last year as far as their offense putting up a lot of yards and numbers. I guess you can say it's payback. I just look at it as a new game. I know what they're capable of, so let's take practice serious and get into our stuff. When you get out there, you don't want to think about stuff."

The Illini set a number of goals preseason, including a Big 10 Championship. That one is likely out of reach, but Henry realizes other goals are still possible.

"No question. Being your senior year, you want to do all these nice things. Go undefeated and all that stuff. But we're having a good year."

Henry will be glad to graduate but sad to leave friends. His thoughts about the Illini coaching staff is an eye-opener.

"I'm definitely gonna miss it. I'm gonna miss the coaches more than anything. The coaches all are pretty funny. I've never been around a group of guys like these. They're funny."

Does he want to coach after graduation?

"Yeah, I actually do, and in my near future. And at as high a level as I can get it. I'd like to coach college, maybe start out in high school somewhere."

Wherever he goes, whatever he does, Henry will always be an outstanding representative of the University of Illinois.

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